Later this year I am helping to lead a Marian pilgrimage. The days we are away are all non-Marian feasts or obligatory memorias. (Following the general Catholic Liturgical Calendar.)

Is it permissible according to Catholic rules to celebrate votive Marian masses during the pilgrimage in place of the masses of the day?

2 Answers 2


Under certain conditions, the clergy may employ a votive mass on days where it is permitted in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary, especially on Saturdays. Traditionally, Saturdays are dedicated to Mary.

What is a votive mass?

Votive Mass

A Mass offered in honor of some mystery of the faith, or the Blessed Virgin, or of a saint or all the saints, but not in the liturgical calendar for that day. Votive Masses, with some exceptions, may be offered on any ordinary ferial day in the year, outside of Lent and Advent, and on other days that do not require the Mass of the day to be said. In general, votive Masses may be taken from among those listed as votive in the Roman Missal or from any other Mass of the year.

The General Instruction of the Roman Missal, No. 376, has this a say about votive masses:

"On obligatory memorials, on the weekdays of Advent up to and including December 16, of the Christmas Season from January 2, and of the Easter Season after the Octave of Easter, Masses for Various Needs, Masses for Various Circumstances, and Votive Masses are as such forbidden. If, however, required by some real need or pastoral advantage, according to the judgment of the rector (pastor) of the church or the priest celebrant himself, a Mass corresponding to such a need or advantage may be used in a celebration with a congregation."

But that is not all. The Vatican, under Pope John Paul II, published a Collection of 46 Marian Masses in 1986. Some of these masses are permitted to be celebrated in Advent, Easter and Lent.

The Collection of Masses of the Blessed Virgin Mary, published by the Congregation of Divine Worship in 1986, is a set of forty-six Masses intended for use at Marian shrines and for communities who wish to celebrate the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin on Saturday. Originally published in two volumes, a Missal (Sacramentary) and a Lectionary, its status as an official liturgical book confers an authority both on the individual Masses as well as the principles contained in the General Introduction.

The forty-six Masses are arranged according to the divisions of the liturgical year: Advent (three), Christmas (six), Lent (five), Easter (four), and Ordinary Time (twenty-eight). The Advent season celebrates "the two comings of the Lord: the first in lowliness when ... the Lord took flesh of the Virgin Mary ... and the second in glory, when ... the Lord will come to judge the living and dead and to lead the just ... where Mary has preceded them in glory." During Lent, Mary is "the model of the disciple who faithfully listens to the word of God and follows the footsteps of Christ to Calvary ...." - Collection of Masses of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

  • Yes, it was the collection of masses of the BVM that I had in mind. (It's in ordinary time.) I'm not thinking of the Saturday memoria, but weekdays with obligatory memorias. I think the "real pastoral advantage" is the appropriate quote here -- thank you. Commented Feb 19, 2018 at 15:00
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    @lonesomeday A pilgrimage constitutes a "real pastoral advantage" in your case.
    – Ken Graham
    Commented Feb 20, 2018 at 0:39

I would say so, as long as no specific Feast Day that might occur during the period (e.g. Christmas) is not observed. The Code of Canon Law, number 1247, states that the obligation of the faithful is to participate in Mass in every feast day, including Sundays. This is, daily mass is not obligatory. Thus, replacing the normal calendar mass for a special one might not be a problem.

Also, according to the Canon Law some shrines have special duties to foster Eucharist:

Can. 1234 §1. At shrines the means of salvation are to be supplied more abundantly to the faithful by the diligent proclamation of the word of God, the suitable promotion of liturgical life especially through the celebration of the Eucharist and of penance, and the cultivation of approved forms of popular piety.

So, as long a you do not replace a particular Feast Day with a non-Feast day celebration/liturgy, I think you are not faulting any obligation.

PS: there are actually several occasions where the liturgy is chosen purely for the occasion to be marked, and not according to the calendar, whilst retaining the quality of valid mass. For example, marriages, commemoration of events, jubilees, masses held by the Pope during Papal travel, et cetera.

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